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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Interview with Janice Thompson

Last fall, I read Janice Thompson’s THE WEDDING CAPER and laughed through Annie Peterson’s wedding adventures. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, GONE WITH THE GROOM. Recently, I chatted with Janice about her latest release and here’s what she had to say.

LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell us about. . .THE CALL

JANICE: My first book (Duty to Die) was really the book of my heart. My passion for the subject matter drove me to write. So, when the call came from the editor at Barbour Fiction (formerly Promise Press line), I couldn’t believe it. I still remember the phone in my hand—hearing the words—not quite believing they could be true. Someone wanted to pay me. . .for my book? Wow! Years of prayer had gone into that moment, and it’s one I’ll never forget. I’ve sold many books since, but every contract is a reminder that God is in the business of answering prayers and meeting needs.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind the idea for this series and in particular about GONE WITH THE GROOM.

JANICE: The past few years have been filled with weddings. My two oldest daughters got married in 2004 within five months of each other. My third-oldest daughter got married this past March, and my youngest is head-over-heels in love with the man she’s sure she’s going to marry. In-between all of the ceremonies, I’ve helped friends with their weddings, baking cakes, decorating, etc. In other words, I’ve been in wedding-planning mode for three years now, and the fun goes on! During the planning of my oldest daughter’s wedding, I was struck with an idea for a wedding-themed mystery and the first book of this series (THE WEDDING CAPER) was born.

GONE WITH THE GROOM is the sequel to that book. In this story, mother of the bride, Annie Peterson, takes on the role of super-sleuth when her daughter’s groom-to-be turns up missing two weeks before the big day. I can honestly say none of my sons-in-law went missing (thank goodness), but I had a lot of fun imagining what I’d do if such a thing happened. The story is filled with ups and downs, ins and outs, and plenty of intrigue!

LISA: Wow, you’ve really been busy! I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character in this story who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

JANICE: The primary character (Annie Peterson) is a lot like me. Or maybe I’m a lot like her. We’re both in our late 40’s, and both know what it’s like to marry off daughters one on top of the other. We’re both in love with our pets (my miniature dachshunds Sasha and Copper play a major role in the stories) and we’re both “take-charge” kind of people. In some ways, Annie is wackier than I am. In some ways, I envy her. She’s far better at watching what she eats and going to the gym. (Fitting into that mother-of-the-bride dress can be tricky.) It’s been fun to write this story in first-person, because I can really get into Annie’s head. I find myself living vicariously through her.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

JANICE: I think I’ve learned that God is both the inspiration AND the door-opener. He will show me what I need to write and where the story will “land” (which editor/house, etc.) I don’t want to get out ahead of Him, though (as I mentioned above) I’m a take charge kind of girl. Patience isn’t a strong-suit, and waiting on news from editors/agents can be difficult, but God is in control. And I’ve also learned that the “timing” of things is important, even when it’s out of my control. For example, when my book HURRICANE (about the Galveston hurricane of 1900) was set to be released in October of 2004, I was horrified. I would have preferred to see it released in June, at the beginning of the hurricane season, not October, at the end. How was I to know that three catastrophic hurricanes would hit in September of 2004, in the weeks prior to the book’s release? On the heels of those storms, my book was released (and received a lot of coverage in the news as a result). Amazing, eh?

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

JANICE: Oh my goodness! Where do I start? There will be three more books in Annie Peterson’s journey. They will release with Barbour’s new mystery bookclub line over the next three years. My agent is also marketing a series of Texas historicals, as well as a (what fun!) romantic comedy series called Club Wed. Many/most of my stories have weddings in them, so readers can look for that to be a consistent theme. My new web design reflects that, as well. And while I’m talking about future projects, I’ll go ahead and share that my daughter (Randi Morrow) and I co-authored two non-fiction books for Barbour. HAPPILY EVER AFTER (a devotional for brides-to-be) and GREAT EXPECTATIONS (a devotional for moms-to-be) will release in 2008.

LISA: Sounds like two wonderful books, Janice. Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

JANICE: As I mentioned above, hitting the right house at the right time is critical. And patience is key. Don’t give up. It’s better to wait for the right house/right deal than to rush things through in the wrong place.

LISA: Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

JANICE: All (inspirational/Christian) writers need a copy of Sally Stuart’s “Christian Writers Market Guide.” And I highly recommend Sol Stein’s book (On Writing) as well. I also learned a lot from Penny Stokes book on fiction-writing.

LISA: What is the process you use when writing a mystery/suspense?

JANICE: I do everything in my head first, then commit it to computer. I start out with a basic premise, then come up with a list of suspects, trying to lay a good foundation for WHY/WHAT would make them suspect to the reader. It’s tricky! Writing a good mystery is tough work, and many times I want to pull my hair out, but it’s worth it in the end, particularly when I get a letter from a reader saying, “You got me! You really got me!”

LISA: What is your system to keep the story/clues organized?

JANICE: I use a chapter-by-chapter synopsis so that I don’t get lost. I don’t always stick to it, but it provides a good foundation. I also use a 12-step plotter, which readers can find on my website at www.janiceathompson.com.

LISA: Thanks so much for stopping by our Keep Me In Suspense Site, Janice! You can pick up a copy of GONE WITH THE GROOM at your local bookstore. Also, be sure and stop by our contest page for a chance to win a free copy.

Check out Janice's website!


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